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Hahn Says EU, Turkey Should Look Into 'New Format Of Cooperation'

Johannes Hahn, the commissioner for European neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations (file photo)

BRUSSELS -- EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn says the European Union and Turkey should start discussions "on a possible new format of cooperation."

Hahn told reporters in Brussels on April 24 that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's victory earlier this month in a referendum to enhance his powers makes him skeptical that Turkey "is willing to share any kind of power with anybody."

Calling power-sharing "the fundamental concept of the European Union," Hahn said he hopes that EU member states -- and "hopefully also Turkey" -- are ready to look into "a more fundamental discussion on a possible new format of cooperation."

Hahn did not elaborate on what he meant by "a new format," but added, "We probably have to be creative on this."

Hahn noted that an upgrading of the customs union between Turkey and the EU that entered into force in 1995 could be an area in which "a more intensified and more rational kind of cooperation with Turkey is possible and in our mutual interests."

Since the Turkey referendum, some political groups in the European Parliament have called on the EU to suspend or completely abandon accession talks with Turkey.

Eleven out of the 33 "negotiation chapters" between Ankara and Brussels are currently frozen and no new chapters are expected to be opened anytime soon.

EU foreign ministers will meet for an informal council in Malta on April 28, possibly with participation of the Turkish foreign minister, to discuss the next step in EU-Turkey relations

Hahn himself said he wants to keep the option of future accession talks on the table.

"Turkey's development is clearly linked to Erdogan and the policy driven by his party currently, but apparently a huge part of the Turkish society has different views, so I personally prefer not to close doors and to keep discussions, so to say, alive," Hahn concluded.

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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.